Most of us here in Austin like to classify ourselves as adventurers. According to our social media and online dating profiles — yes, we Tinder stalked both local guys and gals and can attest that this is true– we Austinites are free-spirited wanderers and business-minded creatives, happy mountain climbers and unabashed foodies. We enjoy discovering new music and expanding our philosophies about life, and above all, we love exploring our city.
But finding enjoyment in trying new things is only part of what it means to be adventurous. In order to be truly intrepid, we think you’ve got to be the sort of person who seeks out challenges and isn’t afraid to face their fears. If you are indeed the daring sort, you’re definitely not going to want to miss out on Austin’s ten most extreme adventures, shown below. You’re welcome in advance!
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Try flyboarding or wakesurfing.
In honor of our legendary Texas heat, the first grouping of extreme adventures we’re going to recommend all take place on — or if you’re not very good, in — the water. Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis both attract a fair amount of wakeboarders, wakesurfers, and tubers, and if none of your pals have the means to make that happen for you, companies like QuestATX, Next Level Ride, Shred Stixx Wakesurf School, and Austin Wakesurf would be more than willing to take you out for a few hours and teach you a thing or two. Then, when you can hold your own on a wakeboard, bust out the water jet packs with Fly Lake Austin — a company who’s weird in the best of ways. Their assorted “flyboards” and “jetovators” will quite literally have you soaring.
Quest ATX: 10815 FM 1625. 512-298-9370. Hours and rates vary by season & age; 2 hr $30, 4hr $35, all day $40. Website.
Next Level Ride: 5400 E Hwy 71 (Del Valle). 512-915-9056. Open daily 10 a.m. to dusk. Rates vary by day of week; 2 hr $25-28, 4hr $30-33, all day $35-38. Website.
Shred Stixx Wakesurf School: 9217 Colberg Dr. 512-669-1124. Private lessons, group sessions available at varying rates. Website.
Austin Wakesurf: 12300 River Bend. 512-940-2531. 1 hr $125, 2 hr $240, 3 hr $360 for (same rate for multiple surfers). Website.
Fly Lake Austin: 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-775-9060. 20 min $100, 30 min $140 with options to add extra time. Website.
Learn aerial circus arts.
Aerial acrobatics might not seem like an extreme adventure, but don’t underestimate them. It takes a lot of strength and skill to be able to suspend and spiral your body with aerial silks or swing on a flying trapeze like experienced aerialists. Even supporting your own body weight is going to take some practice if that’s not something you’re used to doing! Thus, because the aerial arts challenge both one’s physicality and one’s fears of heights and falling, we’re absolutely recommending that you take a few beginner level classes at Sky Candy or Trapeze Texas.
Sky Candy: Main – 507 Calles St. #117; reVamped – 2400 E Cesar Chavez St. 512-800-4998. Rates vary by age, number of classes, & group/private; 60 min aerial/circus class $30. Website.
Trapeze Texas: 13317 Fitzhugh Rd. 512-608-1071. 1 hr $47, 2 hr $90 with special/group rates and multi-class packs available. Website.
Picture this: you and your friends locked in a strange room and time is running out. You have to escape the room within a certain time frame to stay alive. Maybe there’s a zombie in the corner who’s going to break free soon, or perhaps the room is set to self-destruct or fill with toxic gas in exactly one hour. Whatever the case, you’ve got to get out and the only way to do that is to band together with your friends and solve puzzles hidden in the area. There are actually several ATX businesses who offer this sort of adventure! Austin Panic Room, Puzzle Room, and Lockdown Austin generally like to keep things low key, focusing on team-building, nerdiness (with an emphasis on Puzzle Room), and competitiveness to motivate their patrons to escape, rather than introducing fear factors. Great Room Escape, however, is a different monster. The whole hungry-zombie-locked-in-with-you thing? Yeah, that’d be them.
Austin Panic Room: 1205 Rio Grande St. 512.920.2845. $20 per person, student & military discounts. Website.
Puzzle Room: 111 W. Anderson Ln St. E320. 512-461-2332. $20 per person. Website.
Lockdown Austin: 1101 Music Lane Unit #342. 512-808-0851. Website.
Great Room Escape: 523 E Highland Mall Blvd. 512-213-4222. $39.95 per person. Website.
Graduate from laser tag.
Listen, laser tag is crazy fun, and we’ve definitely been known to recommend playing it at Blazer Tag Adventure Center, but it isn’t “extreme” because there isn’t any real risk involved. If you want to raise the stakes a little (or a lot, depending on who you play with), then you definitely need to try paintball. We have several amazing paintball venues in Austin, including Austin Paintball, Texas Paintball, Xtreme Paintball, Outlaw Paintball Field, and Stunt Ranch Paintball. Each venue contains multiple courses, or “maps,” with varying degrees of cover and terrain, as well as a variety of guns, ammo, and protective gear for rental. Bring a group of friends or join up with strangers and paintball will teach you about facing your fears, teamwork, and ground warfare tactics, among other valuable lessons. Never mind the welts!
Austin Paintball: 4150 E Hwy 290 (Dripping Springs). 512-858-4448. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $24 per player with extra ammo & rentals available. Website.
Texas Paintball: 18300 Medina Vista Ln (Jonestown). 512-257-8728. Open Fri 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sat-Sun 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. $15 per player with ammo & rentals available. Website.
Xtreme Paintball: 7415 Burleson Manor Rd (Manor). 512-796-9760. Open Sat-Sun 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rates. Website.
Outlaw Paintball: 824 Grand Ave Pkwy (Pflugerville). 512-252-1664. Open Wed & Fri 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. & 7 to 11 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Indiv $12.50 per person, group $10 per person with rentals, ammo, private play available. Website.
Stunt Ranch Paintball: 13317 Fitzhugh Rd. 512-843-3867. Weekdays and weekends by reservation. $50 per player with extra ammo available. Website.
Calling all Elphabas! If you’re short a hovering broomstick and don’t feel quite ready for hardcore skydiving, try the wind tunnels at iFly Austin. These indoor setups are designed to simulate the free-fall feeling brought on by actual skydiving without actually requiring you to leap out of an airplane at 10,000 feet (although legit skydiving is obviously something we’ll be recommending later in this list).
13265 N US 183, Suite A. 512-774-4359. Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Fri-Sat 9 a.m.). Rates vary based on experience and number in group. Website.
Test your rock climbing skills.
Every adventurous Austinite should rock climb at least once. If you’ve never been or don’t have experienced friends who could teach you to climb at the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Reimers Ranch, or Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, which are three of the best climbing hotspots in the area, then we highly recommend that you hook up with a local outdoor guide company like Texas Climbing Adventures, Austin Rock Gym’s Outdoor Guide Service, or Rock About, or that you visit one of Austin Rock Gym’s two (soon to be three!) indoor climbing gyms — the NARG or SARG. North Austin Rock Gym (NARG) is primarily for bouldering — that is, low-height climbing under thick crash mats such that ropes and harnesses aren’t necessary — and South Austin Rock Gym (SARG) contains mostly traditional climbing walls, though they do have a spacious bouldering cave.
Austin Rock Gym: North – 8300 N. Lamar Blvd, Suite B-102;South – 4401 Freidrich Ln., Suite 300. 512-416-9299. Hours vary by location. Rates vary based on package, day use $15, rentals available. Outdoor Guide Service. Websites – North, South.
Ride the longest and fastest zipline in Texas.
If you didn’t know that Austin is home to Texas’ longest and fastest zipline, here’s your heads up. Thanks to the geniuses over at Lake Travis Zipline Adventures, we’ve got a monster cable slide that stretches more than half a mile across a portion of Lake Travis, starting from an overlook that’s about 20 stories high. Did we mention it’ll propel you 45 miles per hour? The only way to brave the beastie is to undertake a 3-hour zipline + hiking excursion that contains five different ziplines of varying lengths, beautiful hill country scenery, boat transport, educational guidery, and access to LTZA’s private beach. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Guess that means you wouldn’t be interested in doing a zipline adventure at night, then…
Fly over Austin in a plane…
You’ve probably flown over Austin in a 747… but what if you had the opportunity to get a much more intimate aerial view of town? Austin Helicopter Tours is an amazing way to experience Austin from above; you can customize your own flight plan or pick from one of AHT’s pre-planned tours, which include fly-overs of Downtown ATX, Circuit of the Americas, Longhorn Stadium, Lake Travis, the hill country, and San Antonio, among other destinations. Or you could really go old school and fly in an open-cockpit biplane through a local company called Austin Biplane. With six different flight packages available for purchase, as well as options to customize your own adventure, these guys aren’t messing around. Want to treat your date to a a romantic sunset flight? Done. Think you can handle aerobatic tricks like barrel rolls, wingovers, and loops? We’ll just have to see about that…
… and then jump out.
If you have a fear of heights, or you know, falling to your death, then this one’s really going to be challenging for you. It’s time to go skydiving, Austin. We have about a zillion different skydiving companies — Lone Star Parachute Center, Texas Skydiving Center, Skydiving Austin Texas, and Austin Skydiving Adventures, to name a few — and all of them would be more than happy to take you up in an airplane and throw you out of it if you’re into that sort of thing. But seriously, be into that sort of thing. If you can stomach it, it can change your life.
Lone Star Parachute Center: 2953 N. Magnolia Ave (Luling). 512-593-2888. Rates vary based on experience and number in group; Tandem – general $229, college $189, birthday $179, military $169. Website.
Texas Skydiving Center: 1055 Pvt Rd 7022 (Lexington). 877-407-JUMP. Open Mon-Fri 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekends until sundown. Rates vary based on experience and number in group; Tandem – first $199, returning $169. Website.
Skydiving Austin Texas: 1-800-396-9514. Rates vary based on package. Website.
Austin Skydiving Adventures: 1-855-445-8973. Rates vary based on package. Website.
Survive the zombie apocalypse… or die trying.
Considered to be one of the most terrifying haunted houses in the U.S. by The Discovery Channel, Huffington Post, Hauntworld Magazine, and anyone who has ever experienced it, House of Torment is easily one of Austin’s most extreme adventures. Described by its creators as a “multi-layered psychological thriller” that is “more like a trip through a modern horror movie than just a haunted house,” House of Torment totally redesigns its story sets each year to keep things fresh, employs Hollywood makeup artists because duh, and trains its “Control Room” operators to customize victims’ — ahem, customers’ — experiences by triggering different effects and frights according to customers’ reactions. But it’s what the company has started doing during the off season that’ll really get you. Three words, people: Zombie Apocalypse LIVE! They’re already gone for the year, having devoured the brains of Austinites from June 19 through 21, but they’ll be back soon, and when they are, you’d better grab tickets — and your will to survive — fast.
523 E Highland Mall Blvd. 512-407-9449. HoT is open most evenings in Sept – Nov annually; Zombie Apocalypse LIVE! is not currently in Austin. HoT general admission $25. Website.
Undoubtedly, there are many other types of extreme Austin adventures available to our bravest souls, but this list should set you well on your way to experiencing that next blissful adrenaline rush. And who knows? — by tackling some of these giants, you might even find the courage to face some of your everyday monsters too.
Featured photo: Flickr user Laura Hadden, CC licensed.